June emails urged Stephen Harper to open MP expenses to auditor general

Emails sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June suggested that some Canadians didn’t trust politicians to police their own spending and wanted the auditor general to look at their books.

OTTAWA — Emails sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June suggested that some Canadians didn’t trust politicians to police their own spending and wanted the auditor general to look at their books.

The emails to the Prime Minister’s Office in early June offer a window into the reaction of Canadians as details of a troubling Senate expense audit were released.

The report named nine senators whose files were sent to the RCMP for review and 21 others were ordered to repay thousands of dollars in questionable expenses.

“Our auditor general, who is beholding (sic) only to Canadian taxpayers, must have access to audit all government expenses in order to restore integrity to our federal government and House of Commons,” said an email from Nova Scotia.

“The political party who pushes for open and honest government will have the courage to invite the auditor general to inspect the expenses of all members of Parliament.”

Another writer sent in a link to a media report about the 30 senators singled out in the audit: “Would it not be nice? Appropriate? Only fair? To see a comparable list for our federal MPs? Including the PM & his cabinet?”

The messages were sent to Harper’s office the day before and the day of the release of the Senate audit. They were released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Names and addresses of the writers were redacted.

In the wake of auditor general Michael Ferguson’s report, the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals all threw their support behind the idea of giving him access to MP spending.

Some of the emails said this should be an election issue, but it has been overshadowed on the campaign by a focus on the Mike Duffy trial.

Questions about Duffy have dogged Harper through the campaign, much to the chagrin of Conservative faithful. One of those party members wrote to the PMO office in June.

“Harper led Canada through one the devastating economic downturns in the economy — and we successfully emerged with one of the leading economies in the world,” the email reads.

“Why is determining the future of the Senate suddenly such a high priority?”

Harper has vowed not to appoint new senators, although he is being challenged in court for allowing vacancies to pile up. The Liberals want to overhaul the Senate selection process. The NDP proposes abolition of the upper chamber, even though that would require a provincial agreement.

One letter writer said Canadians were ready for “some long, drawn-out debates to eliminate the Senate.”

Other writers, however, were looking for an appointment to one of the 22 vacancies.

A Saskatchewan writer promised not to “steal, misrepresent, or abuse the privilege” of the Senate if appointed.

Another from Alberta said the writer had “zero experience in politics,” but had “the utmost integrity with anything I do,” and had “never been dismissed from employment for behaviour reasons.”

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